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Emotional and Spiritual Hoarding

Emotional and Spiritual Hoarding

While thinking about what to write about, I wanted to explore the idea of ‘starting your day over again’. A key part of being able to start your day over is being able to make an honest self appraisal and say or do whatever is necessary to stop, regroup, and change your path. In the process of writing that post (I subsequently changed the title of that post to ‘Honest Self Appraisal without Self Loathing’), I remembered the John Lennon song Just Like Starting Over, and thought that I would use that song for that post. When I saw the video though, I saw that it did not really convey the idea that I had intended. The video itself made me uncomfortable, as ;I watched this declaration of love, all I could think about was that he had been shot and killed.  It felt terribly painful and ironic. This video has remained in my consciousness, gnawing at me, knowing that there was something important there, which I could not quite put my finger on…

Another aspect of ‘taking care of oneself’ is something that I am calling ’emotional and spiritual hoarding’: holding on to your love and happiness so that it’s not as painful when you lose it. Not loving fully, not living fully with this vague notion that somehow you’re better off, ‘safer’, less pained when things turn sour. ‘Don’t climb to the mountaintop, the fall will kill you’.

Emotional and spiritual hoarding is a way of coping with the fear of having an overwhelming painful experience. Being afraid of being hurt and so not living fully. Tucking your love into the back of your drawer, hiding away your passion in the corner of your closet, not admitting to yourself what you really want to do. What is your reaction to this video? Do you thing that the pain (of his death) was due to the fact that they loved each other? Is the way to avoid this type of pain to pull back and not ‘go there’ with others?

Psychotherapy helps with connecting the dots of past experiences and current emotional issues. Energy work helps with releasing the blockages that keep us in emotional trenches. Working with sound is especially helpful for those who cannot quiet their inner critic.

Crown Chakra – who has your head?

What spiritual path are you on? Having a path, a framework that guides your thinking and behavior is important to help you as you face your trials and tribulations. From the smallest broken shoelaces that we face on a daily basis to major issues and traumas that can be so debilitating, having a path enhances resilience.

Your crown chakra connects you to the Universal Energy, your Higher Consciousness. Your spiritual practice is like soothing balm that energetically flows down through your chakras: informing how you see and interpret events thru your crown chakra and your third eye/intuitive 6th chakra; helping you know what to say with your throat chakra; soothing your hurts and your ability to give and receive love and compassion with your heart chakra. Quenching the ‘self-will run riot’ of your fiery third chakra where you want things to happen on your own terms. Balancing dualities, black and white thinking, and the ‘other’ through your second chakra. Helping you process your fears through your root chakra. As you face your ‘fight or flight’ situations, you know that ultimately you are safe with the protection and guidance of your higher power.

Notice that I said spiritual ‘practice’ not ‘beliefs’. Your belief system may provide a framework, but you are what you practice to be. It takes more than sitting in church or temple on a weekly basis. There needs to be a daily spiritual consciousness and activity in order to create and maintain the energetic flow from your crown down to your root chakra and back up again.

As we work our way up the chakras, we work through the blocks that we have in our lower chakras. As we do so, we achieve greater insights into ourselves. We bring what was previously hidden from us into the light of greater consciousness. On our energetic journey back down the chakras, we take this greater consciousness and apply it to our behavior so that we can work towards being our higher selves.

Often, in psychotherapy , there is a goal of attaining ‘insight’ with the belief that somehow, if an individual understands themselves better, this person will then make the necessary changes in their life. Ideally, this would be so. This usually only happens if the individual lacks the right knowledge. For example: If you ask the question ‘how do you get from here to Elm Avenue?’ The answer may be ‘make 2 rights, then go to the light and make a left and you’ll be right there’. Why would anyone ignore such clear instructions? If only life could be this simple. In life, one often asks ‘how can I improve my life?’ The answer inevitably includes: ‘you should practice daily meditation, regular exercise, eat right, and be of service. All the books in the self-help or health and wellness section of the bookstore address one or more of these issues.

Many people struggle with developing a daily spiritual practice. In our culture of immediate gratification and lack of connection to the earth, a daily practice can feel uncomfortable or impractical. It feels too slow. We can get stuck in the first 3 chakras of working for more safety, more pleasure and more material goods all fueled by fear of not having enough and give those activities more priority than working with our higher, unafraid selves.

Do you have a spiritual path? Do you have a tiny flame of spiritual inspiration that needs to be fanned by your awareness of its existence and letting go of fear? What can you do to let your light shine?

Third Chakra – Solar Plexus

third chakraAs we move from first and second to third chakra, we move from passive elements of earth – influenced by gravity; and water, going down the path of least resistance, to fire which burns up, destroys and transforms. First we build a sturdy house where we can get all our basic needs met and feel safe. We make a family and allow ourselves to experience joy and pleasure. Then we say to ourselves ‘is this all there is?’. There is this whole great big world out there, where do I fit in it? Part of the work of the third chakra includes our will and our sense of power; our will helps us change, to take risks and get out of our comfort zone. Do we feel powerful, in control or powerless, unable to take the reins of our life?

One can get stuck in the energies of the first 3 chakras when the question ‘is this all there is?’ is answered by taking actions to attain yet more perceived safety, more money in the bank, more pleasure, more sense of control. The feeling that what one has is not enough is usually fueled by fear and unresolved issues. In order to continue energetically to a higher order consciousness, one goes beyond the self to a Higher Power, to knowledge and actions that reflect the beliefs that ‘it’s not all about me’ and that the hole in your soul will not be filled with more ‘stuff’ or more power.

The fire of your will and your actions is fueled by the air element coming from your heart chakra. Your ability to thrive is enhanced by your compassion, expressing yourself in a healthy way, your attitude and listening to ‘the still voice within’, and by your spiritual life and beliefs. This is not solely about your particular life circumstances, but how you handle your circumstances and if you have compassion (for yourself and others), ability to seek help, and belief in a Higher Power that helps you rise above your immediate circumstances and helps you look at the ‘bigger picture’ of your life and place one foot in front of the other.

Sacral Chakra

As we work our way up the chakras, it is important to remember that energy flows downwards as well as upwards. All chakras are active and influence each other both positively and negatively depending on our history and what we have worked on as well as what we are currently acutely dealing with.

As we move from the first chakra to the second, our energy expands: From earth to water, there is a liberation of energy. Once you are safe and your basic needs are met, there is now time for pleasure and joy.

There is the image of a child on a beach, running towards the ocean, then running back to shore for safety. Each phase of childhood development is faced with this cycling between risk and safety: being able to experiment with joy, play and pleasure while having a safe ‘home base’. Trauma, shame, inability or lack of opportunity to process a difficult event or even cultural or religious mores connected to the work of the second chakra leads possibly to impact a person’s ability to risk joy, to risk pleasure. Imagine one extreme of being thrown in the ocean in order to learn to swim – sink or swim. Or the other extreme of being held back from even getting close to the water because ‘you never know what could happen’.

Addictions are a part of second chakra work. They are a way of seeking joy, pleasure and a way of avoiding pain. Addictions may be due to earlier trauma, but addiction may be due to having the genetic/cultural or familial propensity towards an addictive behavior, without necessarily having a trauma or situation that is ‘making’ you drink or do something else addictively.

The chakras energetically hold all of our life and past-life memories. Throughout our lives, our consciousness is impacted by the events of our lives. It is also impacted by our collective history – as a gender, race, cultural group. If we do not or are not allowed to process these events in a functional way, our interpretation of these events is what leads us down the road of shame, self blame, secrecy, automatic thoughts or automatic feelings that may have been helpful or appropriate, but no longer apply. If you journal, reread passages from different years of your life. Is there a theme that emerges? A theme will most likely emerge in the interpretations you make, which tend to center on fear or shame. Same play, different actors. Or like I used to like to joke ‘I was in the same relationship for many years, the only thing that changed was their social security number.’

It is important to have an understanding of your issues. Chakra work/sound healing is not a short cut around painful emotional work, but it does help release emotions / thoughts that have been hidden from view. Chakra work/ sound healing gets around over-analyzing historical data, also called rumination. Sound healing restores balance to your chakras. Depending on where you are in your personal healing – chakra work/sound healing will enhance or deepen the work that you have done/are doing and lead you to greater freedom from the shame or fear based thoughts.

**I want to give thanks and credit to Anodea Judith, PhD, who is inspiring me with her published book on the chakras: Wheels of Life, and whose work and way of looking at the chakras greatly influences my thinking**

You find what you look for – getting past the root chakra

Please watch this video before reading the rest of this post.

Do you often wonder what someone else’s ‘angle’ is, finding it difficult during a conversation to take things at face value? Or maybe you just feel lonely, not liked by many people. Perhaps there was some past trauma that has left you hypervigilant and unable to move forward. How often do we ‘look’ for things and ultimately find them? What is the likelihood of seeing something that we are not looking for?

I have worked with many people that count their personal slights; they look at and report on the number of times they have been ‘betrayed’. Often times, there is unhealed trauma that keeps perpetuating itself in various ways that appear to be unrelated to the original event(s). One is left with unrelenting sense of ungroundedness; fears, insecurities and inability to take risks due to a fundamental sense of lack of safety.

As in the video above, how often do you ‘count’ the number of times someone has wronged you; or how many times you have been hurt? The bigger question is, though, how often have you missed the ‘moon-walking bear’? How many times has a kind gesture gone unnoticed; an invitation to lunch left unanswered?

The root chakra – located at the base of the spine is the energetic center that holds our most basic survival needs: physical safety; financial stability; shelter. When our root chakra is clear, we feel stable, grounded, safe. We are able to venture out and take risks. When there are blockages, or ‘sanskaras’ – imprints left in our bodies from past experiences that impacted our basic sense of safety or stability – then we become, or remain, ungrounded, insecure or fearful. We may have physical problems in the general area of the root chakra or emotional problems stemming from the lack of groundedness such as depression or anxiety. The events that lead to PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – could also cause a disruption in the root chakra, especially if the individual is not able to or does not have the opportunity to process the trauma.

Talking about the past in therapy is a wonderful way of working through past trauma. It is a forum to work through difficult social interactions and the full range of emotional issues that stem from them. There are specific cognitive- behavioral interventions that help an individual move past their specific life events in order to live happier healthier lives. However, sometimes an individual can get stuck with the whirlpool of talking about their problems and remaining unable to move beyond this.

Sound healing can be a tool to help an individual move to the next level in their psychotherapy; give them that extra ‘oomph’ or insight into themselves that helps them along in their growth. Using toning; tuning forks and other sound healing tools – in meditation or with a sound healing practitioner – can help an individual heal and move forward.

My little hater

A while back, the church I attend announced that it planned on raising 1.5 million dollars through it’s parishioners in order to give the church a makeover. My spouse immediately said ‘I’m going to get involved!’ and I thought to myself that this would be a waste of money as the church would never raise the needed money.

More recently, Marianne Williamson – an ‘internationally acclaimed spiritual author and lecturer’ – announced she will be running for congress in her district in California. I love Marianne; I’ve read many of her books, attended her lectures; and think that it would be great if she could be elected to Congress. But then I thought: ‘she won’t get elected’; ‘the general public won’t go for her’. I read some of her website, there were some parts in her FAQ’s that I felt were a little awkward; so again, I pondered that maybe she was putting energy into a losing battle; ‘she’ll feel bad if she loses’. I read some of the comments, and already there were some haters posting ridiculous statements.

Sometimes I look at the comments section of Youtube videos, or of articles that I read and there are always haters commenting, no matter what the topic – sometimes important, divisive topics; and at other times quite innocuous topics. A few years back, I had posted a Youtube video that I had taken while on an airplane whose wings were being ‘de-iced’. I put the video to music and posted it. It was innocuous enough for me that I could post it, I wasn’t putting something dear to me online – but still, there were hater comments. I’ve wondered about the haters that have time to post toxic commentaries online, and I wonder who they are in their ‘real’ lives. But then, I don’t really have to look too far, because I have my own little hater.

The church placed this fundraising thermometer with their goal amount. I was embarrassed for the church, that they would set themselves up for such a major disappointment. As the weeks passed, slowly but surely the red marker kept rising. Eventually, and this didn’t take a long time either, it reached it’s goal and then surpassed it. I was stunned, and I felt it was a lesson learned. The church benefited by having many people who were like my spouse – they took the leap of faith and put their money where their mouth is.

I don’t know if Marianne Williamson will win, nobody knows that. But she is taking that leap and doing what she feels called to do. It is a major leap, that won’t be easy – but what is life, if not for the leaps?

All of these negative thoughts I have – about the church’s inability to raise money; how they’ll embarass themselves; how Marianne will be disappointed to have put herself out there – are comments that I make to myself. My projections. I am my own little hater. Statements that are preemptive strikes to any action that I may desire to take. ‘this is stupid’ ‘people won’t understand’ ‘nobody would buy that’ ‘it’s not good enough’ ‘I’m not an artist’ ‘I don’t know enough’.

Do you have a little hater? How does your little hater stop you in your tracks; slow you down; make you doubt yourself?

Working with music and sound in therapeutic ways is something that I am feeling called to do. In doing this work, I have to bring in all of me. I do have something to offer despite being imperfect. As this blog evolves; as I evolve – I hope that you will be able to get something that you could use for your own personal growth and healing.

http://www.holynamebrooklyn.com/

fundraising thermometer
fundraising thermometer

http://marianneforcongress.com/
Marianne Williamson


Beating the Little Hater

Stages of Change and the Chakras

The Stages of Change is a ‘transtheoretical model of behavior change’ that discusses the steps a person goes through before making a change. There are 5 stages in this model: 1) precontemplation 2) contemplation 3) action 4) maintenance 5) relapse.

Precontemplation
Have you ever told someone they need to ‘do something’ about a particular behavior and they look at you like you’re nuts? They are in the precontemplation phase. They do not see this behavior/issue/situation as a problem. This could be addictive behavior such as smoking or drinking; or it could be whether or not eating GMO food or watching TV is something to be concerned about. A person in this phase would say, ‘not a problem’; ‘I’m good’; ‘if this was a problem, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I’m doing’.

Contemplation
In the contemplation phase, a person will entertain the idea that the behavior may be problematic, but are not really interested in stopping or modifying what they do. So, in the above examples a person would agree, that their behavior is not necessarily good for them but are not interested in stopping. “I know I watch way too much TV sometimes, but I enjoy it, it’s not a problem, and leave me alone’. “Maybe I’ll stop one day, but not any time soon”

Preparation
In the preparation phase, the individual decides that they must make a change. Something happens that tips the scale – new information, increased consciousness about the issue. For example, a near miss car accident due to drinking too much; your TV malfunctions and you see how much you are able to get done in the 2 days it takes for you to get a new TV. You see a documentary/read a book about the impact of genetically modified food.

Action
You make the change.

Maintenance.
The action of stopping is one thing, but staying stopped is a whole other ball game. This phase includes going 2 steps forward and 3 steps back and actively learning new skills and to use new tools for coping with the changes. You become aware of new things as you make your changes: wonderful things that you have not been previously able to do or see due to the problematic behavior – such as going for walks in the evening due to not watching TV; waking up refreshed in the morning due to not having a hangover; as well as other problems that surface now that you are not occupied by your problematic behavior. You stop drinking and you realize how much you dislike your job; you get rid of the TV and notice how messy your house is.

Root Chakra
As you move along the stages of change, you enter into the world outside of you. In precontemplation, you are solidly on the earth, everything is in its place; no flexibility. There is isolation; self-sufficiency, no trust, solid mass, no change, no movement, stability, all your needs are met (or so you think).
Sacral Chakra
In contemplation, you see that there is a duality – the possibility of something other than what you know. Suddenly there is a stream in this barren earth that grows into a river, dividing the land in two. You meet this increased awareness with a gasp as an unexpected intruder that you are not sure is friend or foe.
Solar Plexus Chakra
In preparation – there is the beginning spark of aspiration and hope for something better. You may feel washed away by the river of uncertainty, but the landscape is becoming lighter and greener. The intruder holds a torch and extends their hand to you saying, ‘come’.
Heart Chakra
In action, you involve your heart – you take the leap of faith – you face the fears that have been obstacles to your change. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you don’t realize it’s a leap until you look back and see where you have come from. Other times, you see the dark chasm in front of you and you have to gather up all your will, faith and energy to take that leap.
Throat Chakra
As you move into maintenance, you learn how to communicate more clearly and honestly. You say what you mean, and mean what you say. You dip back down into the energy of your solar plexus to fire you through and transform your thoughts, your words and your actions.
Third Eye Chakra
You learn to develop and then trust your intuition as you enter into relationship with others. As you do, you travel back through your root chakra struggling with earthly stubborness – changing your mind about change; and through your sacral chakra – you know you can’t do it by yourself but who can you trust? You exert your will, your desire for something better and move up through your heart where the door has squeeked open to let some air in and as it opens further, it lets in light where you can see – both physically and intuitively – what is around you.
Crown Chakra
As you look around you, you realize how big and how small you are within the universe and you set aside some time to pray.

chakras and sound healing

The Chakras

The chakras are represented by the seven colors of the rainbow: red – orange – yellow – green – blue – indigo – violet.  As one goes up the ‘shushumna’ through the chakras, there is an increasing energy level, an increasing vibration just as the colors of the rainbow increase in their vibration as they move from red to violet.

Categorizing the above colors and sounds into 7 elements is essentially creating artificial boundaries and limiting what is really an infinitely vast spectrum of light and sound.  It is a simplified way of conceptualizing the energy work that is being done and it is intended to help develop a beginning understanding of sound healing.

All your experiences in life are stored energetically in your body.  Memories can be triggered through one of the 5 senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, or auditory.    The impact of life events can alter our energetic power centers – our chakras. Our heart closes; our mind does not learn new things; our sense of safety is perpetually awry.  We can have an intellectual understanding of our past life events (through therapy, or self-help groups and other forms of healing), but often times, these experiences remain ‘stuck’ within our bodies – the energetic misalignment of chakras remains the same.

I like to call the soundwork that I do ‘chakra massage’.  It does not involve an actual physical massage, but rather an energetic massage through the use of the monochord and energy work through my hands.